Ever been treated badly on Twitter?

TIP: If you are having trouble with an abusive person on Twitter, you need to read Twitter’s official help page.

Why does being nice sometimes result in being ignored or treated rudely? It’s fair to expect that if we behave graciously towards someone, they will reciprocate.

Of course, you should research who you are talking to first. Some people don’t respond to people they don’t already know, and some accounts are automated. And if you’re not interesting or relevant, even when a real person reads your tweet they may not respond.

BUT: There’s a hidden problem you may be overlooking. Before you came along, there may have been someone just like you who seemed nice, said all the right things, but quickly turned into a jerk. So when you contact popular  Twitter accounts that have a real person responding, realize that your courtesy may be seen as probable manipulation, rather than “here’s a nice person.”

You need to understand the kind of people that came before you.

Myself, most of the time, I don’t mind rudeness or complaints or attempted manipulation too much. Often, it just makes me laugh. Sometimes, it makes me feel compassion for someone who is obviously overwhelmed. Other times I barely notice it. (I’m not paid to do this, I don’t work for Twitter, I’m just here to help.)

I know some people just have bad manners, or are having a bad day…over and over again. I accept that only a small percentage of the time am I thanked for my help. I know many people are contacting me to try to sell me something or manipulate me into doing something for them.

Regardless, I answer all reasonable questions that I can understand.

But you need to know that other people’s bad behavior may make me suspicious of your behavior if you suddenly change your tone.  I have a very low tolerance for people acting nice solely to manipulate me, who then make it obvious by changing their behavior.

I’m still to this day amazed by people who have such good manners and graciously worded requests turning so rude or unresponsive or downright insane (e.g. “why can’t you give me your other Twitter account?”). Manipulative people who gain what they want (or didn’t) and then turn off their “Mr/Ms nice act” still shock me. You would think there wouldn’t be that many of these people. You would be wrong.

However, sometimes it has turned out to be a communication problem.

What you can do to get a good response to your request

First, when asking for assistance, sometimes it helps to be clear about both what you’re asking for and why you’re asking. It makes your request clearer.

I had someone once ask me nicely to repeat a tweet I had just sent about them. When I explained that I don’t send out multiple tweets about someone just because they ask me to, they started sending multiple tweets about what a jerk I was to their f0llowers. Of course, turns out we both misunderstood what the other person was saying. If they had said more about why they were asking, I would have immediately understood. The missing “why” set off a major communication misfire.

Second, if someone is treating you nice but suddenly treats you poorly, one strategy is to immediately act as if a miscommunication has occurred. Stop talking about the topic and start talking about the communication, e.g. apologize, and then say something like “it appears I’ve communicated badly somehow, can you help me understand my mistake?” It’s amazing how what is really a small amount of effort can prevent a major misfire sometimes.

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